Top News

Corner Brook, N.L. doctors send children to N.B. as they prepare to work during COVID-19 pandemic

Corner Brook doctors Shanda Slipp, second from left, and Aiden Brazil, have sent their daughters, Alice, left, and Evie, third from left, to New Brunswick as they prepare to work on the frontlines of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Corner Brook doctors Shanda Slipp, second from left, and Aiden Brazil, have sent their daughters, Alice, left, and Evie, third from left, to New Brunswick as they prepare to work on the frontlines of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Contributed
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

Shanda Slipp is a family doctor in Corner Brook and her husband, Aiden Brazil, is a respirologist.

They both know they’ll have to step up as COVID-19 cases begin to appear on the west coast. The doctors are also parents, who, like other couples, often have to struggle with day care for their two daughters, Alice, 7, and Evie, 5.

When school closed Slipp said she knew they were going to be in this for the long haul.

“We kind of just knew that our work was going to ramp up and we were going to be likely called upon on the front lines of this.”

That likelihood is increased for Brazil, the chief of intense care at Western Memorial Regional Hospital. Despite every kind of precaution they’ll take, Slipp said it’s likely they will be exposed to the virus.

Brazil’s mom, Marie Brazil, was visiting when school closed and was able to stay for 10 days, and they considered having Slipp’s parents, Dick and Joyce Slipp, come from New Brunswick to help out with the girls.

Knowing they’d be working a lot and may bring the virus home they needed to think about what to do to protect the kids and the grandparents, who are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Slipp said they considered alternatives such as having her step back from work and staying home or trying to separate inside the house. In the end the best decision for them was to take the girls to her parents.

“If they lived across the bay we would have done that, if they lived in Gander. It’s really just a matter of that is the best place for them right now where they are going to be very happy, and secure and loved.”

Alice Brazil, left, and her sister Evie Brazil are staying with their grandparents in New Brunswick as their parents, Corner Brook doctors Shanda Slipp and Aiden Brazil, prepare to work on the frontlines of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Contributed
Alice Brazil, left, and her sister Evie Brazil are staying with their grandparents in New Brunswick as their parents, Corner Brook doctors Shanda Slipp and Aiden Brazil, prepare to work on the frontlines of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Contributed

Slipp flew with the girls to N.B. on Monday and returned on Tuesday. The airports were nearly empty, and they were the only three passengers on the flight from Halifax to Fredericton. The decision, she said, was a good one. Her parents live in a rural area.

“So, they are almost in the woods and they’re going to be isolated there.”

And the girls are enjoying themselves.

“They’re so busy, they’re having the time of their lives.”

“But I think when it comes to your kids, and your family and your parents it’s sort of an extra level, maybe a deeper anxiety and you’ll just do anything you can to protect them.”

They keep in touch through Facetime chats.

“Whenever they can fit me into their schedule,” said Slipp with a laugh. “They’re spoiled, very happy.”

The girls somewhat understand what’s happening as the family has talked a lot about the virus.

“They do get it. I think it’s the novelty of this no school and being on vacation. And now this is sort of like an extended summer vacation. But they don’t have any concept of how long or the real why.”

Slipp posted about their decision to send the girls to N.B. on Facebook and got a lot of reaction. As a mom she understands why it resonated with so many people. She said the point was not to generate sympathy, but to show the importance of what needs to be done to fight this disease.

“Everyone is making sacrifices. People have lost jobs, people have been laid off, people are scared, have closed their businesses.”

She said the situation has touched every person and family.

“But I think when it comes to your kids, and your family and your parents it’s sort of an extra level, maybe a deeper anxiety and you’ll just do anything you can to protect them.”

Shana Slipp, right, and her husband Aiden Brazil hope it’ll be no time and they’ll be reunited with their daughter, Evie, left, and Alice, third from left. The girls are staying with their grandparents in New Brunswick as their parents, both doctors in Corner Brook, prepare to work on the frontlines of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Contributed
Shana Slipp, right, and her husband Aiden Brazil hope it’ll be no time and they’ll be reunited with their daughter, Evie, left, and Alice, third from left. The girls are staying with their grandparents in New Brunswick as their parents, both doctors in Corner Brook, prepare to work on the frontlines of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Contributed

She’s now in self-isolation, working from home doing virtual care with her patients.

“After that I’m ready to go to wherever I’m needed,” she said.

“We both feel very strongly about our duty as physicians and health-care workers, and that we feel a need to continue to do that and that we have service to provide.”

Having seen the level of preparedness within Western Health and across the province she feels there is no need for panic.

“I feel like we are very, very prepared. And we’re now reliant on everyone to listen to (chief medical officer) Dr. (Janice) Fitzgerald and follow the advice.”

She applauds what’s being done, from businesses taking measures to protect employees and offering special hours for those at most risk, and people keeping a social distance.

“There’s so many examples of that where the community is really stepping up and trying to do the right thing. It’s really great. We all have to be in this together, it’s a community thing and that’s the only way that we’re going to get through is if we all work together, and all take it seriously.”

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

Recent Stories